I know it seems like since you saw those two pink lines on that pregnancy test, it’s been all about what you should and should not put into your body. And for some moms, it doesn’t just stop once that baby is out. If you choose to breastfeed, now you get to worry about milk supply. And guess what? Unfortunately, what you put into your body still matters according to nutritionists — especially since your baby is still getting everything you eat. As far as milk supply goes, these are the best foods for breastfeeding moms, according to nutritionists.
When it comes to breastfeeding, nothing can replace a healthy diet, according to Amanda Capriglione, a registered and certified dietitian nutritionist and owner of Food Balance. Capriglione tells Romper that an ample amount of protein from good sources like chicken, turkey, lean beef, eggs, beans, and fish are some important dietary staples, as well as whole grains, healthy fats from olive oil, omega 3s, and avocado, "and of course every fruit and vegetable under the rainbow."
However, Capriglione adds, “Scientific studies featuring galactagogue foods and how they can increase breast milk supply are mostly inconclusive. There is no magic potion that automatically provides a woman with more breast milk, but certainly a variety of the aforementioned foods can help. Women’s bodies are very smart — the more frequently you breastfeed, the more milk you make.” Capriglione breaks down some of the foods that are best for breastfeeding mamas.
Calcium and protein are super important nutrients for breastfeeding mamas. And almonds are packed with both. "Breast milk contains lots of calcium, so it’s vital that moms replenish their supply to prevent their bones from calcium depletion. Add almonds to yogurt for a double whammy calcium snack," Capriglione suggests.
Oats are high in iron, fiber-filled, and delicious. The fiber in oatmeal will keep you full, and the iron will help with your milk supply because iron deficiency is a milk supply killer. "Enjoy plain regular oats or quick oats and steer clear of the flavored kind and added sugars," Capriglione says.
Omega-3s can increase milk supply, and salmon is full of them. "Salmon is high in DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which is super important for your little one's developing brain and nervous system," she says. "It’s also a good source of protein to consume one time a week. An omega-3 supplement can help you stay on track if you don’t care for fish or are vegan."
Time to start chomping on those dark leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard and kale to give yourself an iron boost, plus "they contain optimal nutrients" for breastfeeding, according to Capriglione. "Top cooked or raw leafy greens with an acid like lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to get the most iron benefits," she suggests.
Fennel, the licorice vegetable. While I hate licorice, I love me some fennel — go figure. But, according to Capriglione, "Both the plant and its seed, fenugreek, contain phytoestrogens, which can help milk production, but scientific evidence is lacking. Always check with your healthcare provider before starting a supplement like fenugreek. Fennel is tasty by itself or delicious when sliced up in salads."
Flaxseed is another food that has a lot of omega-3s. You can sprinkle it on just about anything, including salads, oatmeal, yogurt, or even this delicious smoothie, which is good for pregnancy and breastfeeding.
"Brewer's yeast powder is high in B vitamins, iron, protein, chromium, and selenium," according to Capriglione. It's typically combined in other recipes — like beer — because it's really bitter. But before you start chugging beer to enhance your milk supply, Capriglione warns, "Alcohol can block the release of oxytocin, a lactation hormone and neurotransmitter, that can cause a decrease in the number of letdowns a breastfeeding mother has in a session." She says, "The occasional glass of wine or beer is OK for breast milk supply, but heavy alcohol consumption is not safe and will cause a drop in supply." However, Capriglione has a pretty delicious, alcohol-free recipe for that brewer's yeast to help with your milk supply called "Boobie Bites," which features quite a few milk-supply-boosting ingredients.
Though a short list, other foods that can decrease supply include certain herbs like sage, peppermint, and parsley, according to Capriglione. However, they have to be consumed in large quantities. "Lay low on the Christmas candy canes and herb filled salads," she says.
While there is no magic food or combination of food that will have your supply gushing like a geyser, these do seem to at least help, according to a nutritionist. Drinking lots of water and eat a healthy, varied diet definitely doesn't hurt. And if you're still having supply issues, don't worry. A lot of women do, and it's totally OK. A lactation consultant can help you get to the root of the issue.
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